Changes affecting Tier 4 of the points based system were announced by the Home Secretary Theresa May on 13 July 2015. The changes are significant for both students wishing to come and study in the UK, including their dependants, as well as establishments sponsoring students.
The main changes are as follows:
Effective from 3 August 2015
- University students will be allowed to study a new course at the same level, but only where there is a link to their previous course or the university can confirm that this supports their career aspirations. Interviews relating to credibility will be undertaken and penalties will be enforced against universities that abuse this rule.
- New students at publicly funded colleges will be prevented from working. This will bring them in line with those at private colleges.
Effective from Autumn 2015
- Tier 4 dependants will be unable to undertake any low or unskilled jobs. They will only be allowed to take part-time or full-time skilled work
- Introduction of stricter English Language requirements
Effective from 12 November 2015
- The required maintenance amount for people applying wishing to study in the UK will increase: £1,265 per month for living costs if studying in London; and £1,015 per month for living costs if studying outside of London.
- The areas in which you must demonstrate the London rate for living costs will also change. Surrey and Essex are some of the areas which have now been included as being in Inner London.
- College students will be unable to switch into Tier 2 and 5 visas from inside the UK. They will be expected to apply from outside the UK.
- College students will be prevented from extending their Tier 4 visas from inside the UK, unless they are studying at an ‘embedded college’, one which has a formal, direct link to a university that is recognised by the Home Office. This will mean that the student will be required to leave the UK and apply for a new visa from outside the UK if they wish to study another course.
- To bring overseas students in line with British students, the Home Office will be reducing the time limit for study at further education level from 3 years to 2 years.
The government says these changes are in line with their policies to reduce immigration abuse, whilst ensuring the UK attracts the brightest and best international students. Whether that is true or not, what is clear is this is another example of the Government making things harder for Tier 4 visa holders.